Food handling/serving and hygiene practices: The perception of food vendors operating in Obubra local government area of Cross river state, Nigeria
Etim John John, Okoi Nta Obono, Inah Grace Michael, Ekpo Ekpo Iyamba
The way and manner food is handled especially during preparation and serving to consumers can determine the level to which the ready-to-eat food is free from contaminants. Poor food handling and poor hygiene can create room for food contamination and cause food poisoning upon consumption. This study sought to investigate food handling/serving and hygiene practice as well as the perceptions of food vendors operating in Obubra Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria. The Health Action Model postulated by Tones in 1977 was used as a guide in the study. The study adopted a descriptive cross sectional design. One hundred and twenty (120) food vendors were sampled through convenience sampling. Self-administered questionnaire was used for data collection. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 and hypotheses were tested using Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation analysis. Results and findings were represented using descriptive statistics. The finding of the study showed that there was a significant correlation between perception of proper food handling and hygiene practices among food vendors in Obubra Local Government Area; and there was a significant correlation between food serving and hygiene practices among food vendors in Obubra Local Government Area. Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are made among others: use of Personal Protective Equipments (like; nose/face mask, apron and head gear/chef cap) during food preparation and serving process; practice of regular hand washing for every 20-30 minutes; constantly sanitizing all surfaces, washing of plates and utensils with good quantity of clean water; bi-annual sensitization of food vendors by agencies and bodies saddled with the responsibility to ensure food safety. Furthermore, NAFDAC and other food agencies through government permission and authority should ensure food vendors are inspected for hygiene bi-annually including assessing their personal hygiene and screening of the food sold. This can be done through taking samples of the vended foods to Food Laboratory for analysis. Government should provide WASH facilities so that food vendors can conveniently practice good hygiene.